The Open Graves, Open Minds project discussed in this book relates the undead in literature, art and other media to questions concerning gender, technology, consumption and social change. The story of vampires, since their discovery in eighteenth-century Europe, is one of transformations and interbreedings of genre, which mediate shifts in ways of knowing and doubting. It is marked by metamorphoses of the vampire itself, from monstrous to sympathetic, but always fascinatingly Other. Certain tropes, such as optical figures, and particularly that of reflection, recur throughout, calling attention to the preoccupation with epistemology in vampire narratives. The book focuses on various aspects of these themes as the story unfolds to the present day. It shows how the persona of Lord Byron became an effective vehicle for the vampire of fiction as a transformed Gothic mode, and grapples with the figure of the non-reflecting vampire who casts no shadow, moving deftly between Dracula and Wilde's Dorian Gray and the 'vampire painting' and installations of the contemporary artist David Reed. The book gives a luminous account of early vampire cinema as a 'Kingdom of shadows', and explores the undead at the interface, where knowing becomes problematic: 'unsettlement'. The book also unearths the folklore roots of vampire fiction and offers a glimpse of how contemporary writers adapt the perennial figure.
Undead aesthetics and mechanical reproduction – Dorian Gray, Dracula and David Reed’s ‘vampire painting’
In Developing the Open, Graves,
OpenMinds project, I was struck by the irony of creatures with
no reflection becoming such a pervasive reflection of modern culture. My
research here has developed directly out of this meditation on the
vampire’s reflection or shadow. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
famously ‘throws no shadow’ though he has long been
associated with darkness
The economics of salvation in Dracula and the Twilight Saga
Jennifer H Williams
’s job to help Jonathan, Mina, Seward, Quincy and Arthur
achieve this absolute faith in the essence of the thing itself. Van
Helsing says to Seward, ‘I want you to believe … [t]o
believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an
American who so defined faith: ‘that which enables us to believe
things which we know to be untrue’. … He meant that we
shall have an openmind, and not
Essence, difference and assimilation in Daniel Waters’s Generation Dead
of the PC talk elsewhere. Waters has fun with
the slogans on Slydell’s range of T-shirts: ‘Dead …
And Loving It’, ‘Zombie Power!’, and (inspiring
this book and its parallel project) ‘Open Graves, OpenMinds’ (196). Ultimately this is about shifting commodities. It
is a picture of how capitalism voraciously, vampirically, seizes on both
youth culture and that of minorities
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows how the persona of Lord Byron became the effective vehicle for the vampire of fiction as a transformed Gothic mode. It analyses Le Fanu's 'Carmilla', with its seductive lesbian vampire, alongside his vampiric tale 'The Mysterious Lodger'. The book provides a luminous account of early vampire cinema as a 'Kingdom of Shadows', digging up lost cinematic texts which should be better known. It explores the Dracula's exclamation 'I, too, can love', and also examines the complex intertextuality involved with Dracula and Twilight, via Francis Ford Coppola and Anne Rice, drawing on adaptation studies. In addition, the book discusses the autonomy of the Undead, plotting an unusual argument drawing on theology and linking the monstrous with ideas of human agency and moral responsibility.
This chapter shows the evolution of the Byronic vampire as it mutated from its folkloric roots, as documented in the ethnography of the likes of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, into a powerful literary figure. It also shows that, as this archetype evolved, it did so through an interplay with the actual persona of Byron. Byron's twentieth- and twenty-first-century successors rejoice in their vampiric Otherness, reaffirming themselves against that which they are now not, the deformed transformed. Byron himself had little to do with the vampire's humanisation; yet his physician and rival John Polidori would appropriate his aura of melancholic broodiness and reputation of nocturnal lover and destroyer in The Vampyre. Transgressing all social and ethical boundaries, the Byronic hero is always an outcast, living in perpetual exile on the fringes of society, on the run from persecution and persecuting others in turn.
In general, critical readings of the Irish vampire have, firstly, focused primarily on Stoker's Dracula and offered a more scant treatment of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu. Secondly, they have limited their reading of the vampire's Irishness to the racial, political and national discourses of nineteenth-century Ireland. This chapter concentrates on two of vampires of Le Fanu's vampires ('The Mysterious Lodger' and 'Carmilla'). It argues that they enact not only a spatial invasion but a temporal one that brings Ireland's medieval history to bear on Le Fanu's nineteenth-century texts. The analysis attends to the resonances among these works and Ireland's medieval history, reading that history as available for continual resurrection. The chapter argues that the attraction between Irish writers and vampire narratives lies in the striking correspondences between the twelfth-century colonial origin story of Ireland's relationship with England and the key structural elements of vampire narratives.
This chapter suggests that the portrayals of vampires by George Sylvester Viereck and Hanns Heinz Ewers provide some insight into how they could support Adolf Hitler's brutal regime. In House of the Vampire, Viereck's charismatic vampire, Reginald Clarke, sucks the creativity and even the sanity from his victims, but this parasitism allows him to create powerful and immortal works of genius. Ewers's Vampir portrays vampirism as serving the cause of German nationalism: Frank Braun's blood drinking propels him to oratorical heights for his country. Viereck's support of Hitler and National Socialism despite its evils forever shattered any aspirations he had to join the vampire Clarke's pantheon of great men. In Vampir, Jews can either be bloodthirsty, vampiric murderers or sacrificial victims. In Vampir, identity is consistently expressed through the language of blood and through a blood mythology that links Germans and Jews.
In 1896, Maxim Gorky described the experience of watching the newly invented cinematograph as entering 'the Kingdom of Shadows'. This chapter demonstrates that Dracula underwent a process of experimentation wherein vampire imagery was used across a wide range of genres and to convey diverse meanings before it became consolidated into a recognised horror formula. It considers how the reimagining of the vampire through the technological language of cinema also serves both to celebrate modernity and to bring the vampire 'up-to-date with a vengeance'. The ambivalence towards modernity embodied in the vamp continued to be a key component of the cinematic vampire as the genre developed beyond pure metaphor. In it, the vamp is presented as vampire-like and into a genre about vampires, drawing upon nineteenth-century precursors.
This chapter describes the 'remaking' process of vampire texts by exploring the intertextual relationships that exist between Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula and the 'new vampire' film Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight. It considers how all vampire texts function primarily as intertexts and explores how audience responses of anxiety have been replaced by those of desire in the Twilight texts. Viewed through the kaleidoscope of intertextual reference and allusion, the film borrows from Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete as much as it borrows from Stoker. The earnest and beautiful Mina Murray falling in love with the 'hated and feared' Prince Dracula, a 'beast' and a 'monster' whose redemption depends ultimately on a reunion with his beloved. In the Twilight texts, the vampire's 'Otherness' itself becomes a kind of allusion: implied but never realised; glamorised or fetishised but never effectively explored.